Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.4)

I’ve had this 4th and last part of my Noteworthy Report «all the great albums of 2017 I didn’t get to talk about» for quite some time on my HDD, but for one reason or another I didn’t have the energy to actually go finish the finer details that go hand in hand with actually posting a NWR. However, with March marching to an end, I knew I had to act, mostly because in this specific part you will find what I believe is THE best album of 2017, and not posting it would really be a shame. Without further ado I give you the Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 pt. 4/4.

 

Ars Magna Umbrae – Through Lunar Gateways

Magnificent Black Metal that marries the best parts of the melodic, the experimental and the occult. If you weren’t listening to this, what DID you do this summer?

 

Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension and Involution)

On the surface this is yet another black metal album, but it is mixed in such a bizarre and profound way that makes it more of an experience than just a listen. Add the psychedelic Septicflesh-y elements that are subtly woven in and get ready for a trip to another cosmos. If you’re still in doubt, it bears the mark of W.T.C. Productions, and this alone is a testament of its superior quality.

 

Ashenspire – Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary

This has got to be the ABSOLUTELY BEST album I heard in 2017. The bastard offspring of Ved Buens Ende and Primordial is filled with theatrical vocals, brilliant riffs, epic marches and the sickly medieval atmosphere of rainy England.

 

Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven

WITTR return with what appears to be their most primitive and aggressive album so far. The shamanistic aesthetics and their crystalline melodies are still here, they just left more room for pure black metal to blossom. Even if you never liked them before, you HAVE to give this album a chance.

 

ÆRA – Of Foresworn Vows

90’s Norwegian Black Metal, only produced in the Americas. Early Gehenna / Emperor come to mind. Short and to the point. Invest!

 

Diablery / Shadowcraft – Entropy

Last but certainly not least, a split by two Greek bands that are slowly but steadily making a name in the scene. Diablery play cold, symphonic Black Metal that has a Scandinavian quality and influences (from early Gehenna all the way to modern-day Dimmu Borgir). Shadowcraft on the other hand are also symphonic but on a more Pagan trajectory and at points they really reminded me of Limbonic Art. This release sure deserves your attention.

 

Thus closes the circle. 2017 proved to be an amazing year for black metal. Let’s wait and see if this year can match it…

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Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2017 (pt.1)

In recent years it is becoming the norm for blogs and magazines to give an ‘EoY’ (end-of-year) list with ‘the 10 best albums’ of the year (or in some cases 12, or even 80 if that makes sense). I was hesitating to follow this practice, especially since I don’t use a grading system for my reviews, so what I decided instead is to give you a list of what I kept in my ‘noteworthy’ list throughout the entire year. This would be a smaller list if I wasn’t neck-deep-busy over the last months, but such things happen, and so I will have to cover what was left behind during my long absence.

Notice that there is no noticeable distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘established’ acts. Still I give somewhat of a break to lesser known acts because having to compete to get a name out there is already hard enough.

Due to the sheer number of releases included in this “Noteworthy Report – all that is left of 2017 that I didn’t have the time to talk about” I will break it into many parts. Enjoy the first of them…

 

Battle Dagorath – II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness

Last year, their “I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos” was among my favorite albums for 2016. This year they returned to finish what they started with this second part of the opus. This one is more direct and energetic. Astral Black metal in the vein of Limbonic Art.

 

Cult Of The Horns – Chapter I. Domination

Gut wrenching blackened Death metal from France. If you are a fan of early-to-mid era Belphegor you are SO going to enjoy this album. I know I did!

 

Darkenhöld – Memoria Sylvarum

This is an album I thoroughly enjoyed this year. Inspired by the Norwegian Atmospheric Black Metal of the 90’s, it feels like a journey in the past. Time and time again you will feel the nostalgic effect of its riffs as they unearth forgotten hints of Ulver or Old Man’s Child, only to fade under a Burzum-esque change of pace, yet nothing feels forced. There is definitely something in the French waters!

 

DEVLSY – Private Suite

Lithuania is a country with hardly any well established metal bands. However they don’t give up and every now and then a good release will surface to remind us of their efforts. This avant-garde post black metal album is a “now” moment. Support it.

 

Метель – Цивилизация

Metel is a Russian black metal band clearly inspired by the Swedish school (reminded me of Negator’s “Panzer Metal”). Formed in 2003, they just released their debut album this Christmas, and it’s really really good.

 

Grailknight – Galahad’s Quest

Admit it. If you hadn’t seen the title, you too would believe that these are lost recordings of Summoning that didn’t make it to their “Lost Tales” EP. This one man project from Serbia is doing a really good job at imitating their Epic Dungeon Synth Metal. The production is quite underwhelming but I decided to cut them some slack anyways.

 

Deviser – Howling Flames

The Greek veterans return after a long absence with this tasty EP. Pompous melodic black metal that encloses everything we loved from the Greek scene of the 90’s and then some. Can’t wait for the full length!

 

DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy

Switzerland is –at least in my mind– a country where metal bands are either atmospheric or experimenting with electronic elements, so this album was a huge surprise for me. Apparently the French Black Metal scene is getting to big to be contained and now contaminates bordering nations. Oh, goody!

(Bandcamp link to the album)

 

Necrot – Blood Offerings

I am a very difficult listener when it comes to old school Death Metal. It usually bores me to, well, death. So when an album manages to keep me entertained for its entire duration it makes it to my list. Simple as that. The Californians really did it this time. Fans of early Death, invest with both hands!

 

Fen – Winter

The gentlemen from the United Kingdom return to their roots with this 5th album. Musically, “Winter” is really close to “The Malediction Fields” (which happens to be my favorite album), yet the compositions are more mature. A solid release.

 

That was the first batch. If you enjoyed it, stay tuned as there are more to come in the following days. Which release did you particularly like?

Noteworthy Report: April 2017

Welcome my friends to another VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. ATF is a project I run on my free time, which is becoming more of a rarity nowadays, but I try to keep active no matter the circumstances. Want to know why?

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums are getting released every month. Granted, some of them aren’t all too great, but how can anyone tell? Nobody has time to listen to every single one of them. That’s what the Noteworthy Report is all about. Every month –or so- I gather my notes and talk about the best releases that usually pass under the radars of big publications.

Enough with the chit chat, on with my list for April!

Prometheus – Consumed In Flames

I’ve known Prometheus through some demo tracks and I’ve known them to be a Hellenic black metal band. So I was a little surprised when their debut landed. Here they have a clearly more blackened Death orientation. The album is packed with great riffs, inventive and intense drumming and occult atmospheres. An absolute must have!

 

Atrexial – Souverain

We stay in the blackened death metal ballpark, this time coming from Spain. Bombastic songs clearly inspired from the Swedish scene, with Marduk-esque riffs but on a different track. Some of the songs may sound unfitting, but since this is their debut I find it natural to explore a few paths and wander off from time to time. Don’t let this fact turn you down and enjoy this fresh release in any case.

 

Corpus Diavolis – Atra Lumen

Melodic Black Metal from France, bold enough to step outside the dissonant prog/black playground that has been set up there. Their music is brilliant, their drumming has a spark of genius, but their most striking aspect are the theatric vocals. A true masterpiece.

 

Ulvegr – Titahion: Kaos Manifest

Sometimes I just have to stand in awe before the talent of certain musicians. The guys responsible for this release just spit excellent album after excellent album on an unmatched pace (and under many names: Elderblood, KZOHH, GreyAblaze and more). In this 4th full length they touch on the Egyptian mysticism (bringing to mind the Greek band Acherontas at points) and they intertwine songs with prayer-like intros, the way Acheron did in “Rites of the Black Mass”. One of the best releases I heard lately…

 

Cult Of Erinyes – Tiberivs

Occult progressive black metal from the masters of the kind. The duo from Belgium returns with an album that won’t let down any of their followers. Hit play, breathe its intoxicating fumes and travel somewhere dark, to a place you can call “your unknown”…

 

So that was it. I still haven’t posted my “through the cracks” NWR, but I sure will. But first I have a review in the writing, so stay tuned because this won’t take too long to finish. As always, if you have any suggestions leave a message or send me a mail…

Noteworthy Report: March 2017

Welcome my friends to a very, VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. As you know, ATF is a project I run on my free time, and these past two months were busy as fvck putting me off track.

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums get released every month, and March had more than his fair share of “big” releases, from the highly anticipated fourth album of Woe, to a new Forteresse release, and from the –also highly anticipated– furious album of The Furor to the debut of all-star Doedsvangr. On top of the fierce competition for fan attention, Mastodon released their new album which –as uninspired as it is– overshadowed pretty much everything else.

Yet the underground never sleeps; if you aren’t easily entertained by the “low hanging fruit”, March came with some impressive gifts that passed under the radars of big publications. Without further ado, these are some of the most noteworthy releases.

 

Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos

The UK blackened deathsters (ala-Portal) return with a short but killer EP. Soul crushing riffs reduce everything to dust. Nuclear Chaos is upon us, embrace it or perish!

 

Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars Of Devotion

In a similar vein, Harvest Gulgaltha play “cryptic necromantic black death metal”, or in other words, minimal blackened death. The majority of the album is slow-paced and feels like sinking in quicksand. So much gloom and despair it feels otherworldly.

 

Mistveil – Amnesia

This is quite a debut from my compatriots Mistveil. They play melodic doom/death metal in the vein of Saturnus and early Draconian. I personally enjoy such music during the cold winter nights, but this is just my preference and timing isn’t a factor of quality in any case. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Nordland – European Paganism

This here is an album with what I call a “barrier-to-entry”. The first minutes of the album feel like they pointlessly thrust in every direction, but at some point you get what they try (and ultimately manage) to do. The album is exactly what the title says: they pick threads from pagan black all over Europe, and join them in a unique piece of art. You will hear Enslaved (both early and late), Ancient Rites, Fen and a bunch of other influences beautifully married in unity. A really interesting as well as demanding listen.

 

Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds From A Bleeding Earth

The Swedish folk black-metallers released their debut album this month. Filled with mostly awesome stuff, fans of Thyrfing and Amon Amarth will want to check it out. There are some odd, off-putting, Iron Maiden-ish moments here and there, but I guess this never killed anyone…

 

Pillorian – Obsidian Arc

Born just this past summer by veterans of the scene (including John Haughm of ex-Agalloch), Pillorian released their debut album in March, sharing their take on avant-garde folk black metal. If you’re a fan of USBM don’t skip this album…

 

In the following days I will release the April NWR, as well as a special NWR of releases that I listened and cared enough to share but fell through the cracks of time and ultimately never got to talk about them. So stay tuned, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

SMT/ATF Episode 1: Greece

This is the article that started the whole series. I can’t remember exactly when it was originally posted, but I know the “first season” lasted for 12 episodes, one every week, all the way to the last week of 2011. I left the text unedited, even if it doesn’t make much sense out of the SMT context. I may come back and alter stuff if I find a serious reason for that, but for now this is enough…
–Tragon

 

This is an article about the weird cases of metal (and not only) music: those who were behind the scenes, never really getting as much of a hype but having a magnitude of their own, trying a different path and even pushing the envelope.

Big K gave me the idea for this article when he recently answered to some band and brought forth the issue of similarity and homogenization of today’s music. I personally feel that most modern bands don’t have a character. Over 90% of metalcore bands play the exact same things, are inspired by the exact same band(s) and if you make a compilation with a song from each one and put it in shuffle you can’t really tell which band is playing at any moment. Hopefully someone around these waters will find new inspiration in the following bands and, why not, invent a brand new genre…

 

Let’s take a closer look at Necromantia: a band that was formed by bassists and insisted on using distorted 8-string bass instead of guitars, or using whatever instrument they saw fit to create their atmospheres, even saxophones! They created some awesome black metal unlike anything you might have heard before. I think the first song I ever heard from them was “Spiritforms of the Psychomancer” but the song that still haunts me to this day is “The Arcane Light of Hecate”. Make sure to listen just after 2:25…

 

On Thorns I Lay is one of those bands that couldn’t sit too long in one genre. They started as eerie melodic death metal, close to the sound of Septic Flesh, but later they explored the waters of alternative metal mixing in some strings, with much success…

 

Ever thought what Septic Flesh would sound like if you strip them from all their –trademark– melodic death metal? Chaostar is a project of S.F. members doing exactly that. This is cinema material peeps!

 

Another band that has gone to great lengths but still remains a hidden treasure for a lot of people is Acherontas (formerly known as Stutthof). Their powerful and melodic black metal meshes well with the occult, promoting wampyrism and ancient Egyptian myths the proper way (THUNDERS and HAWKS and Ks and Js, you see what I did there). “Tat Tvam Asi” was just the –new– beginning…

 

One of the weirdest Hellenic acts is of course Daemonia Nymphe, who set to recreate the lost pagan music of ancient Greece. They created actual representations of the instruments the ancients used and released some of the most amazing music I have ever witnessed. It is no wonder that they are still unknown to the majority of Christian population of Greece, even after a lot of well-known singers (like Alkinoos Ioannides) participated in their songs, but they are respected by black metal fans all over the country (so much that Lord Impaler even made a tribute song to them called “Hymn To The Nymphe”), both because they are true and of course their origins…

 

So, what is the weird side of metal music in your countries?